Slum Stories: Kenya – Going To The Toilet In A Slum


This video is part of the Amnesty International www.SlumStories.org project. An online videochannel about the life in slums in different parts of the world.
All videos can be watched with English, Arab, French, Spanish, German and Dutch subtitles.

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Alhassan Ziblim – The Dynamics Of Informal Settlements Upgrading In South Africa: Legislative And Policy Context, Problems, Tensions, And Contradictions

August, 2013. Approximately 1.2 million households in South Africa currently live in informal  settlements, under very precarious conditions, which pose serious threat to their health, safety, and security. Actual figures are likely higher than reported. Access to  adequate housing remains a big challenge in South Africa, notwithstanding  continuous efforts since 1994, to deliver affordable housing to the poor, through various national housing subsidy schemes. Against this backdrop, the government  introduced groundbreaking housing policy reforms in 2004, which included a
programme devoted to the upgrading of informal settlements. The new initiative, crowned as the “Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme” (UISP), had the  objective to “eradicate” all informal settlements by 2014.

After almost a decade of  implementation, and practically less than a year to its initial “slum eradication”  deadline of 2014, this study sets out to explore the policy dynamics, and  implementation of the UISP, through the lens of good governance. It seeks to identify  and flesh out the problems and challenges of the programme, in order to inform policy learning. The study draws relevant information from books, journal articles,  national policy documents, publications and news reports, as well as internet sources.  In general, while the findings pinpoint the existence of comprehensive national  legislative and policy frameworks in support of the slum upgrading initiative, the  evidence suggest that, the goal of slum eradication is still farfetched, due to several  problems and challenges. Indeed, there is an apparent gap between the policy  rhetoric, and the reality of implementation, characterised by notable inconsistencies, tensions, and problems.

These problems and challenges have so far hindered the  programme‟s ability to make realistic improvements in the lives of slum dwellers. In  effect, the report identifies the following telling governance challenges to be in need  of urgent attention by policy makers:
– Failure by municipalities to adhere to the basic principles of structured in situ upgrading as opposed to total redevelopment of slums; the
– The nominal or lack of community involvement and choice in decisions of slums upgrading;
– The lack of capacity and material resource shortages, that leads sometimes to delays in project implementation.

Read more: http://globalhousingindicators.org/

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The National Art Gallery, A Shining Gem On Rwesero Hill

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The National Art Gallery on top of Rwesero Hill
Photo Lia Gieling

Not many people probably know that The National Art Gallery (The NAG) in Nyanza is since 2006 a contemporary arts museum in Rwanda. It is even the only one in the great lakes district. The classical building hosting this museum has been constructed at the end of the fifties of the past century and is beautifully located in the scenic hills, just outside Nyanza. It was built for Rwanda’s last king Matara III Rudahigwa, who died in 1959, just before he would move into his modern palace.. Since Mutara’s death, the palace has hosted several judicial institutes, like the High Court and the Supreme Court. The late archeologist and visionair prof. dr. Celestin Kanimba, former DG of INMR, regarded contemporary art as one of the healing means to recover from the1994 genocide. The NAG is part of the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda, which includes 5 various national museums.

Architecture and location
The building, designed by Belgian architect Robert Quintet, has been constructed at the end of the 1950’s. It is beautifully located on top of Rwesero hill. The building and location itself can be experienced as an excellent typical Rwandese attraction, as a masterly mixture of landscape, colonial architecture and royal history.
It turned out to be a lucky shot to change the destiny of the palace into a museum.
In the first place because of the architecture and its surroundings. But even more important is its location in the city of Nyanza, were in former ‘royal’ days Rwandan culture was flourishing. The King’s Palace Museum is near and both museums are located far away from noisy cities like Kigali and Huye. Read more

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Gold The True Motor Of West African History: An Overview Of The Importance Of Gold In West Africa And Its Relations With The Wider World

Slave Trade

Slave Trade

While the prime sources of gold remained more or less where they had always been, hidden from the outside world, along the headwaters of the Rivers Senegal and Niger (Wright 2007: 21).

Towards a Longer Time Frame for African History
Slavery and African slaves have dominated historical perspectives of Africa and its relations with the wider world. Yet, it is gold which has been the most important and enduring element that has shaped and determined West Africa and its interactions with the wider world. For at least 1,500 years gold and not slaves has been the commodity determining not only the region’s economy and history, but also West Africa’s links with the wider world.

Beginning in the late 1700s, understandable humanitarian concerns and philanthropic motives ensured that the focal point within public discussion and history, when dealing with West Africa, came to be centred on the issue of slavery. Focussing on slavery to the detriment of gold and other commodities to some extent ensured that the export of slaves from West Africa came to be halted in the course of the nineteenth century. The persistence of slavery within Africa, as well as the continued smuggling of slaves out of Africa, in many instances served to legitimate the intervention in, and subsequent occupation of, West Africa by Europe’s imperial powers. Ironically, those opposed to colonial rule made grateful use of the historical trope of slavery that existed within European discourse to hasten the end of colonial occupation in West Africa. Thus the discourse that had in many instances been used to legitimate the establishment of colonial rule, was also used to oppose colonial rule. But, and this is the important issue, in both instances it was the trope of ‘slavery’ that determined the manner in which lay and professional observers looked at West Africa’s past. In both instances it was a dehumanising and debilitating view of history that effectively robbed, and continues to rob, West African historical actors of any agency beyond being mere pawns in the West’s insatiable thirst and desire for slaves. The persistence of this negative history continues to rob West Africa of its rightful place in global history.

The focus on slavery has overshadowed and driven from both public and scholarly perception the realisation that West Africa’s history is far more than slavery alone; it is indeed a sad irony of history that the incessant focus on the dark past of slavery has managed to eclipse the bright history of gold in West Africa. A refocus of West African history, away from the past three hundred years to the longer perspective of nearly two thousand years, brings into focus a far more constructive and less passive history of West Africa and its inhabitants. Far from being merely the subject pawns of the deeply exploitative and dehumanising trade and economic systems initiated outside of Africa, a refocus on the role of West African gold in its relations with the wider world, brings to the fore a far more energetic and virile history in which West Africa’s relations with the rest of the world are based on a far greater degree of equality and shared interest.
This essay has been written with the express purpose of drawing to the fore the long history of gold in West Africa so that a new beginning can be made to refocus views of Africa and its people away from a debilitating and ultimately nihilistic focus on slavery. A focus on the long-term history West African gold will bring to the fore an interesting history in which Africans are not merely acted upon but ultimately determined the course of global history and humanity as a whole. Read more

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Vincze Miklos – China’s Brand-New Abandoned Cities Could Be Dystopian Movie Sets

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Photo: io9.com

io9.com. China’s building boom has created a ton of abandoned cities and massive ruins — most of which are brand new, and have never had people living in them. Here are the deserted Chinese cities, mostly built in the last 10 years, which could be sets for your next dystopian movie.

 Read more: http://io9.com/chinas-brand-new-abandoned-cities
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